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Enterprise a

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Weonesoay Feor-ary 1 1 2009 PAPX PAP DS M h 6270t15 hewspaper (2WX 48 Cenrer For P-ra Alla rs

Minnesota bucks trend of declining numbers of farms BY JON KNUTSON THE FORUM

U.S. agriculture - including farms in North Dakota and Minnesota - is evolving in ways both great and small, a federal report says. Among the changes were more farms, aging farmers and farmers with more at stake financially. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Census of Agriculture, released Feb. 4, makes at least one other thing clear, too: Agriculture remains a big deal in the region. The value of Minnesota's ag products soared to $13.1 billion in 2007, with North Dakota's ag products valued at $6 billion that year. A little background The farm census, completed every five years, is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics and production practices, among other things. It also breaks down information to national, state and county levels. For the 2007 census, farm and ranch operators were asked to return their surveys by February 2008. USDA employees spent a year analyzing and editing the information. Farmers regarded filling out the 24-page forms as "kind of an annoyance," said Bob Finken, a Douglas,

N.D., producer, who estimated he spent half an hour completing the form. The farm census isn't of much practical value to most farmers, he said. But the data can be valuable to businesses and government agencies that serve farmers, the USDA says. People familiar with agriculture won't be surprised by the 2007 census, said Lee Egerstrom, a fellow with Minnesota 2020, a St. Paulbased think tank. "We're seeing a continuation of longstanding trends," he said. Withering middle

Both North Dakota and Minnesota gained farmers from 2002 to 2007, with most new farms consisting of 50 acres or less. For instance, the number of farms in Minnesota with fewer than 10 acres rose from 3,591 in 2002 to 3,687 in 2007. "Urbanites starting hobby farms," Byron Richard, a Belfield, N.D., farmer and president of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, said of the increase in small farms. Roger Johnson, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner, said many people wouldn't consider farms of such small size to be real farming operations. Big farms, ones with 2,000 acres or more, also fared relatively well in the 2007 farm census. Their number rose in

Minnesota and held steady in North Dakota. But the number of midsized farms, ones with 1,000 to 2,000 acres, fell sharply in both states to continue a decades-long pattern of decline. In 2007, North Dakota had 5,369 farms of 1,000 to 2,000 acres. That was down from 5,994 in 2002 and 10,013 in 1987. The decline reflects growing pressure for farms to become bigger and more efficient, Richard said. "We're looking at bipolar agriculture," with mid-sized family farms suffering from the growth of small and big farms, said Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Lyons, Neb.-based

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Older, more at rlsk

The average age of farmers shot higher, both nationally and regionally. For instance. North Dakota farmers averaged 55.3 years of age in 2007. That was up from 52.9 years in 2002 and 48.5 years in 1987. Young people increasingly have a tough time getting started in farming because of harder-toobtain capital and unfavorable tax laws, said Kevin Paap, a Garden City, Mim., farmer and president of the state Farm Bureau Federation. The 2007 farm census also reflects outstanding prices for many crops that

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Down b Earth

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Enterprise year. For instance, the value of North Dakota's ag products nearly doubled from 2002 to 2007, rising from $3.2 billion to $6 billion. Prices have slumped since then, Richard noted. The cost of expenses,

Date Locatlon Clrculat~on(DMA) Type (Frequency) Page Keyword

such as fuel and fertilizer, also shot up from 2002 to 2007, with many expenses remaining at high levels. With more invested in their crops, farmers face bigger losses if yields are poor or prices tumble. "The sense I'm getting

Wednesday, February 1 1 2009 PARK RAPIDS MN 6,270 (15) Newspaper (2WK) 48 Center For Rural Affalrs

from farmers is there's a real nervousness about crop prices, expenses and the future," Hassebrook said.

Knutsun is a reporterfor The Fonrrn.He can be reached at 701-241-5530.

SARAH SMITH / ENTERPRISE

Minnesotafarms are not withering on the vine, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's2007 Census of Agriculture. The number of small "hobby" farms rose from 3,591 in 2002 to 3,687 in 2007.

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West Central

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Monoay Feor-ary 09 2009 W __MAP M h 16927(15 hewspaper (D&S A5 Cenrer For P-ra Alla rs

Harvest of change: Farm census shows evolving U.S. agriculture Average age of farmers continues to rise both nationally and regionally; farmers also have more at stake from a financial perspective By John Knutson 77ze Fago Fonir~z U.S. agriculture - including farms in North Dakota and Minnesota - is evolving in ways both great and small. a federal report says. Among the changes were more farms. aging farmers and farmers with more at stake financially. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Census of Agriculture. released Wednesday. makes a t least one other thing clear. too: Agriculture remains a big deal in the region. The value of Minnesota's ag products soared to $13.1 billion in 2007, with North Dak0ta.s ag products valued at $6 billion that year. A little background: The farm census. completed five years. is afarms 'Omplete count of U.S. and ranches and the people who operate them. It looks at land use and ownership. operator characteristics and production practices. among other things. It also breaks down information to national. state and county levels. For the 2007 census. farm and ranch operators were asked to their surveys by February 2008.

USDA spent a year the information. and editillg Farmers regarded ''ling out the 24-page forms a s "kind of a n annoyance.'. said Bob Finken. a Douglas. N.D.. producer. who estinlated he spent half all hour conlpleting the form.

The far111 census isn't of much practical value to most farmers, he said. But the data can be valuable to businesses and goveminent agencies that serve farmers. the USDA says. People familiar with agriculture won't be surprised by the 2007 census. said Lee Egerstroin. a fellow with Minnesota 2020. a St. Paulbased think t a n k ''We're seeing a continuation of longstanding trends." he said. Older, more at risk The average age of farnlems shot higher. both nationallly and regionall): For instance. Dabt a farmers averaged 55.3 Yeals of age in 2007. That was u p fi.orn 52.9 )eal-s in 2002 and 18.5 ycals in 1987. 'ou"~ lncrcaslngb. have a tough tinle getting started in fanning because of harder-to-obtain capital and unfavorable tax laws. said Kevin Paap. a Garden and president the state Farm Bureau Federation. The 2007 farm census also reflects "ltstanding prices for Inany that year For instance. the value of ag products 2002 2007. rising from $3.2 billion @ billion. Prices have slumped since then. Ricl1al.d noted. The cost of expenses. such a s fuel and fertilizer. also shot lip from 2002 to 2007, with many expenses I.elllaining at high levels. With more invested in their crops. farmers face bigger losses if yields are

poor o r prices tumble. "The sense I'm getting from farmers is there's a real nervousness about crop prices. expenses and the f~rt~11.e." Hassebrook said.

Withering middle Both North Dakota and Rlinnesota gained farmers from 2002 to 2007. with most farnls consisting of 50 acres 01. less. For instance. the number of' farms in Minnesota with fewer than 10 acres rose from 3.591 in 2002 to 3,687 in 2007. &'Urbanitesstarting hobby farms," Byron Richard. a Belfield. N.D.. farmer and pl.esident of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association. said of the incl.ease in small Roger Johnsoll. North Dakota Agriculture missioner. said many people wouldn't c o ~ i s i d ef~a r ~ ~ of ~ s such slnall size to be l.eal farming operations. Big farms, ones with 2.0() acres o r more. also fared rclatively well in the 2007 fan11 census. Their number rose in Minnesota and heid steady in North Dakota. But the number of' midsized farms, ones with 1.oIJO to 2.000 acres, fell sharply in both states to continue a decadeslong pattern of decline. 2W7. North Dakota had 5.369 falms of to 2.000 acres. That was from 5.994 in 2002 and 10.013 in 1987. ~h~ decline reflects s o w ing pressure for farms to become biggel. and illore

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TRIBUNE West Central

efficient, Richard said. "We're looki~igat bipolar agriculture," with mid-sized

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Monday February 09 2009 WILLMAR, MN 16,927 (15) Newspaper (D&S)

keord

A5 Center For Rural Affa~rs

family farnls suffering froln the growth of small and big farms, said Chuck Hassc-

brook, executive director of the Lyons, Neb.-based t e r r a 1 M'ai~s.

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A farmer is seen is this undated file photo cultivating his field of soybeans for weed control south of Willmar. A new report released by the federal government shows that the farming industry continues to evolve in many ways. A.mong the findings: More farms are in operation than in years past -with more at stake financially -and farmers are continuing to farm later in life compared to previous generations. Printing imperfections present during scanning

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